I silently bid adieu to him with a smile.
It’s not like his absence wouldn’t affect me, it would, like it did the last time. And time never healed me; I just grew a bit old and learnt to live with it. I have seen this before, heard this before, and felt this before. He was again on his knees holding my hand. He promised me he will be back very soon. He promised me he will never forget me. His eyes compelled me to believe him. I believed him. But I knew his brain will betray his promise. My heart convinced me that it wasn’t his fault. He meant what he said. He just never had a control on his brain. And since his brain controlled his actions how could I hold him responsible for it? I knew he will return some day. It may take him days, months or maybe years but he will return. He will remember me when he is bored of walking alone in the sunshine. He will need me when the ocean pricks his body. He will miss me someday. I didn’t cry anymore. I never begged him to stay back. He kissed me on the forehead and said “I promise.” But again he forgot the very reason why he was on his knees holding my hand. His brain had betrayed him again. Just like the previous time the ring was safe in the box in his pocket. I consoled my finger “wait till next time.”
He walked away. He never turned back. I looked at the footsteps he left on the narrow pathway and I wished I could change the direction. I lived on the hope that he will return. And I survived accepting the fact he will leave again. My heart had convinced me that forever was too long, I should be happy with his short term visits. I was learning to live accepting that I may have to live without him forever. But who thinks about forever? It’s way too long.. who cares about forever when there is always a next time? I lived for that next time when he would return back crying out my name and I would rush to meet him forgetting everything, the pain he had caused me, the void he had created in my life.
He didn’t return this time. But a letter did reach me. I went to meet him. There were people in black who talked about his bravery. I walked towards the huge box placed on the wet mud. I wished to cry but I couldn’t. I wished my heart would stop aching. I couldn’t rush like I always did when he returned back. I knew he was right there but my legs didn’t carry me fast. They stopped mid way. They hesitated to move. I dragged myself to the box. He slept peacefully with his eyes closed. Today it was different. His eyes couldn’t even make me believe he will return. He didn’t promise me anything. He had left without a promise. He didn’t kiss me good bye. He wasn’t on his knees holding my hand. But the ring remained in the box with him, both packed together inside the box. And I realized he was always more loyal to the country than he was ever to me. But I knew he would have returned someday, but not in a box. My heart convinced me again that it was not his fault, this time it wasn't his brain but life had betrayed him and his promise.